A wholegrain of truth?
Today the Real Bread Campaign publishes ‘A wholegrain of truth?’, a report looking at the marketing of industrial loaves that claim the healthy halo of ‘wholegrain’. The investigation of products marketed under some of the UK’s highest profile brands found a Waitrose loaf with merely a miserly 6% wholemeal flour on its declared ingredients list.*
The report also considers the separate category of loaves marketed as ‘wholemeal’ and highlights the practice of what the Campaign sees as ‘diluting’ wholemeal wheat flour with soya flour and refined powdered wheat gluten as being rife amongst industrial loaf manufacturers. Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young, who compiled the report, asked: ‘What protection is there for shoppers? How can it be right that industrial loaf manufacturers are not prevented from tacking the word ‘wholegrain’ to a loaf that could be ninety-odd percent white flour, or from stirring soya flour and highly refined gluten powder into a loaf whose name implies is made with 100% wholemeal wheat flour?’
Though The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 clearly state that a loaf can only be marketed using the word wholemeal if ‘all the flour used as an ingredient in the preparation of the bread is wholemeal,’ the investigation found that regulators did not interpret this as prohibiting the use soya flour or highly refined wheat gluten powder. This was on the grounds that neither meets the Regulations’ definition of flour and so they considered neither to be subject to the ‘all the flour’ clause. With regard to the word ‘wholegrain’, the investigation found that without a legal definition or specific regulation, there is no minimum unrefined grain ingredient content requirement for loaves marketed using it.
The investigation looked at a sample of loaves named or marketed using the words ‘wholegrain’, ‘wholemeal’ and other terms the Campaign felt that consumers would understand to have similar meanings under the Allinson, Asda, The Co-operative, Greggs, Hovis, Kingsmill, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Warburtons brands in 2012. To protect everyone’s right to make fully-informed food choices, the report’s recommendations include setting meaningful legal definitions for the words ‘wholegrain’ and ‘wholemeal’ and robust regulation that enshrines the integrity the words imply.
Having considered the Campaign’s concerns, neither Defra or any of the seven trading standards departments that responded during the investigation felt that any of the issues we had raised required further action. The Federation of Bakers, whose members include the wrapped-sliced loaf manufacturers featured in the report, declined to answer the Campaign’s questions.
‘A wholegrain of truth?’ is available as a PDF at realbreadcampaign.org
* Waitrose White & Wholegrain – see notes for ingredients list
For more information please contact Chris Young: chris [at] sustainweb.org or 0203 5596 777
www.realbreadcampaign.org twitter.com/realbread facebook.com/realbreadcampaign
*Waitrose white & wholegrain: Wheat flour (56%), water, wholemeal wheat flour (6%), yeast, wheat fibre, wheat gluten, fermented wheat flour, spirit vinegar, rapeseed oil and palm oil, salt, flour treatment agent ascorbic acid
Full details of the investigation, including ingredients lists for all of the loaves, as well as responses from manufacturers, trading standards departments and Defra, can be found in the report.
Part of the charity Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, the Real Bread Campaign is helping to bring Real Bread back to the hearts of our local communities. With membership open to everyone who cares about the state of bread in Britain, the Campaign defines Real Bread as made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives. From this simple starting point, the Campaign seeks, finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet.
The investigation and report was funded by Campaign membership fees.
Current key Campaign initiatives
- The Real Bread Loaf Mark: helping bakers to show, and shoppers to see, ‘this is Real Bread!’
- The Real Bread Finder: the only online directory dedicated to helping people find where to buy Real Bread locally. Free for bakers to add, and people to search for, local places to buy Real Bread.
- Lessons in Loaf: A guide for teachers on planning hands-on Real Bread making sessions for any age, plus lesson plans to tie the topic of bread in with a range of curriculum subjects at Key Stage 2.
- Real Bread on The Menu: the Campaign’s scheme encouraging more public sector institutions (including schools, care homes and hospitals) and food access projects (e.g. co-operative buying groups, community cafes, box schemes) around Britain to offer Real Bread.
- Knead to Know: the Real Bread starter: the guide to starting a Real Bread enterprise for your local community, republished by Grub Street in May 2013.
- Membership: the Campaign’s mutually-supportive national network helps bakers and everyone else who cares about the state of bread in Britain to connect with each other to ask for and share ideas and information to help the rise of Real Bread. Membership fees, at four accessible levels from individuals to large companies, help to fund the Campaign’s work.
Real Bread Maker Week (7-11 May 2013) As well as raising awareness, this year our annual event will call upon Britain to help us raise dough to do good.
Together we rise! From July 2013, the Campaign’s new project will focus on helping people who, for one reason or another, have a tougher time than most of us, to take advantage of the employment, therapeutic, and social opportunities that making Real Bread by hand offers.
More details of our plans and the funding and other help we need can be found at: http://bit.ly/NVGPoi
Published 27 Feb 2013
Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.
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